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Daylight Savings Plan

America is full of great half-baked ideas on how to save. The recent change to the start and end dates of Daylight Savings Time (it has been moved to a full two weeks earlier and two weeks later than before) is one of these great American ideas.

The name "Daylight Savings" is pretty preposterous. How can you save daylight? It is not something that you can put in the bank and earn interest on. It is not something that can be stockpiled for a rainy day (full pun intended).

Daylight savings is really about spending daylight. We change the clocks so that we can spend a few extra hours of daylight awake doing things that require sunlight instead of otherwise spending those hours sleeping. Moving the clocks ahead one hour merely changes how we spend those extra hours of daylight, it does not affect any savings of time or sunlight.

One plan for saving time!
This time change should really be called "Daylight Spending." That name would commemorate much better what the various lobbying groups behind this time change hope will happen. Business interests from the golf industry to the candy industry worked together to lobby for a longer Daylight Savings period, hoping that the result will be felt in their bottom line with more people dressing up as Golfers for Halloween.

Additionally, the name "Daylight Spending" would also reflect the $150 million that congress has authorized to be spent on studies examining the effects of the time change.

American culture is a big fan of labeling spending in terms of savings. Store promotions offer specials along the lines "buy one get the second half off." Marketing professionals play the game of misdirection to get your cash. A wife might come home to her husband saying, "I saved $150 on these jeans." A shrewd husband looks and the price tag and accurately assesses, "no, you spent $150 on those jeans."

Another great example is the so-called "saving" of the wild wolves in Yellowstone. Environmentalists and conservationists will cheer, "yeah, we saved the wild wolves in Yellowstone!" Yet, they donít look at the price tag attached on the other side, namely the cost in terms of the blood of wild elk populations, to name only one prey group effected. They donít want people to think about how much research money has been funneled to a small group of researchers to track these wolves (with marginal success). People happy about "saving" the wild wolf ignore the real monetary cost to local ranchers around Yellowstone whose herds and flocks often go to feed the wolves. We should not say that we "saved" the wild wolves in Yellowstone. We should say we bought the wild wolves in Yellowstone. Then we should ask whether or not they are worth the price we paid.

Our society needs to catch on to these scams. America needs to re-learn the good old definition of savings, putting some money aside as a reserve. Donít get tricked into thinking that youíre saving something when in realty you are just spending!

by Cameron Hatch
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